Stars Above

Title: Stars Above
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles, a collection
Genre: Dystopian, Fairytale, Romance, Sci-Fi, YA
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Release Date: February 2nd, 2016
 
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Note: This post reviews a collection of short stories that is written as a companion to The Lunar Chronicles. You may like to read the first four books in the series, Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter, before reading this review. 
 

Did you ever wonder what Cinder’s transformation from lunar to cyborg was really like? Or how Wolf came to be chosen as one of the queen’s special operatives? And when it was that Winter and Jacin first became friends and fell in love? These questions and more are answered in this final installment.

The Keeper is Scarlet’s grandmother, Michelle Benoit. We learned in the other books that Michelle had a part to play in the rescue of Princess Selene in the aftermath of the fire that nearly claimed the young girl’s life. Now we see just how much she risked all those years.

In Glitches, Cinder has woken up from her eight years in a preservation tank, her cyborg transformation now complete. This prequel to Cinder also shows her introduction to her step-family in New Beijing.

How was Ze’ev Kesley, or Wolf as we know him, chosen to be in The Queen’s Army? In this short story we see his childhood taken from him as he is thrown into his new life in the pack, and learns his place in it.

Was Thorne’s childhood like Cress had believed it to be, or was he really a selfish flirt all along? In Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky, Thorne shows us his way of chasing after the things he wants in life and what it takes to get them.

Why was Cress chosen to become a hacker spy for Levana? After Sunshine Passes By shows us how nine-year-old Cress became trapped in her satellite prison.

The Princess and the Guard tells the story of how Winter and Jacin became childhood friends, and eventually more. Her insanity and her scars are also further explained.

The Little Android is a retelling of The Little Mermaid. Though it takes place in the same setting as The Lunar Chronicles, it is not connected to the stories of the other characters we know and love.

We get to see the perspective of Kai as he meets The Mechanic for the first time. Having already known Cinder’s thoughts as she meets the prince, it is fun to learn what is going through Kai’s head, too.

Something Old, Something New is the only story to pick up where we left off in The Lunar Chronicles. As its name implies, it features the wedding of one of our beloved couples from the series. We get to witness more than one happy ending in this epilogue.

If you have read The Lunar Chronicles and have fallen in love with its characters, then Stars Above is a must read. I really enjoy reading short stories like these that give us more back story, and Meyer certainly did not disappoint!

Click on the links below to get your copy of this book and the others in its series:

  

  

Fairest

Title: Fairest
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles, book 3.5/6
Genre: Dystopian, Fairytale, Romance, Sci-Fi, YA
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Release Date: January 27th, 2015
 
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Note: This post reviews a prequel of The Lunar Chronicles. You may like to read the first three books in the series, Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, before reading this review. 
 

Up till now, these fairytale retellings have focused on each heroine. In Fairest, we see the untold story of Levana, the villain of the series. Have you ever wondered what makes the villain go bad in the first place? This book explains why Levana is the way she is.

Levana has grown up in a loveless family. Her parents, the king and queen, do not love each other, or their two daughters, and Channary, the first born and heir, certainly has no love for her little sister. Cruel and vain, Channary abuses her lunar powers on her six-year-old sister, forcing her into a fire. Levana carries her burn scars for the rest of her life, but she becomes quite skilled at using her glamor to cover them up.

When her parents are assassinated, Levana is left with no one but Channary. Desperate for love, Levana begins to pursue one of the palace guards she has been infatuated with for years, even though he is married. But Levana believes they are truly meant to be together, especially after Evret’s beloved wife dies in childbirth. Her infatuation with him becomes obsessive – she begins using her mind powers to make him return her love, which he never did on his own.

Even when Levana uses her glamor to resemble his deceased wife, he does not return her love. He only cares about his child, his little daughter, Winter. Levana forces Evret to marry her, but their situation does not get any better. Levana is unable to have a child of her own, and is constantly reminded of Evret’s love for his own daughter, from his first wife – the only wife he ever loved.

On top of her marriage problems, Levana has to accept the fact that she will never be queen. Instead, her young niece, Selene, is to be the next queen. Levana is convinced that Selene will be just as terrible a queen as Channary, and she begins to plot how she will get Selene out of the picture to find her own happy ending.

This book was disturbing, young adult level though it was. It is disturbing to see sibling abuse, then marital abuse, and finally child abuse. I can’t tell if Meyer wanted us to feel sympathy for Levana, because I didn’t have very much. We do see just how messed up Levana really is in Fairest, which helps us see why she does everything she does in the rest of the series. Thankfully, this is a quick read, so we don’t have to deal with Levana’s obsessive behavior for very long.

Click on the links below to get your copy of this book and the others in its series:

  

  

Winter

Title: Winter
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles, book 4/6
Genre: Dystopian, Fairytale, Romance, Sci-Fi, YA
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Release Date: November 10th, 2015

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Note: This post reviews the fourth book of The Lunar Chronicles. You may like to read the first three books in the series, Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, before reading this review. 
 

This book in the series introduces our final fairytale heroine, Winter. Princess Winter is in danger because her stepmother, Levana, is jealous of her beauty and the love she receives from the people of Luna, and therefore wants her dead. Yes, the last fairytale retelling is Snow White.

Princess Winter suffers from terrible visions and hallucinations because she refuses to use her lunar mind powers to control others. She often sees things that are not there, and many think she is crazy. Her one true friend is her guard, Jacin, whom she has known since childhood. Winter is in love with Jacin, but he feels unable to return her love because of their different statuses. He puts his own feelings for her aside as he dedicates himself to keeping her safe, no matter the cost.

As Winter’s own story is being told, we also continue to follow our main heroine, Cinder – the lost Princess Selene and rightful heir to the throne of Luna. Cinder has accepted the truth about who she is and is ready to take back what is hers, ending Levana’s tyranny. Kai, the emperor of the Commonwealth, does everything he can to help her, while at the same time doing what he thinks is best for his own country. Unfortunately, this means following through with his marriage to Levana and as a result, obtaining the cure to letumosis, the epidemic that has claimed the lives of millions of earthens.

In addition to the support she receives from Kai, Cinder also has the help of her friends, Iko, Scarlet, Wolf, Cress, and Thorne, all of whom wish to see her overthrow Levana. We see the relationships that began in the earlier books continue to develop and deepen, and also be put to the test. It is unclear whether or not the characters we have grown to care about will actually end up together in the end. Meyer intentionally makes us wait till the last 50 pages or so (out of over 800) to find out if these characters will survive the final fight and find their own happily ever afters.

This series exceeded my expectations. If you can wrap your head around the idea of futuristic fairytale retellings that take place not only on earth but also in space, I think you may enjoy The Lunar Chronicles as much as I did.

Click on the links below to get your copy of this book and the others in its series:

  

  

Cress

Title: Cress
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles, book 3/6
Genre: Dystopian, Fairytale, Romance, Sci-Fi, YA
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Release Date: February 4th, 2014

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Note: This post reviews the third book of The Lunar Chronicles. You may like to read the first two books in the series, Cinder and Scarlet, before reading this review. 

The first two fairytale retellings in The Lunar Chronicles are Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood – the third one, Rapunzel. Cress, short for Crescent, is a shell – a lunar with no glamour – and forced to be a servant of Levana, working as a spy. Imprisoned on a satellite since childhood, Cress grows up in complete isolation, her parents all the while believing her to be dead.

After she realizes that Cress has been keeping their spaceship hidden from the lunars, Cinder and her friends develop a plan to rescue her. But things do not go as planned. Captain Thorne, the fugitive who escaped with Cinder, ends up stranded with Cress in the middle of the Sahara desert, while the rest of their friends are back on the ship. Hoping to get in contact with Cinder, they make their way across the desert.

We see their relationship begin to take off during the trek. Cress, who had fallen in love with him at first sight, believes him to be her hero, her prince charming that she has always dreamed of. Thorne, who has thus far been arrogant and self-seeking, does not see himself as she sees him. He remembers the not-so-good parts of his past, and knows that Cress deserves better. But that doesn’t keep him from falling in love right back.

Aside from this new love story in the series, we see Cinder, the true heir to the lunar throne, continue to fight against Levana. She knows that once Levanna marries Kai and becomes Empress of the Commonwealth, all of earth will be in more danger than ever. Cinder is determined to stop the wedding, hopefully saving Kai and the rest of the earthens from her wrath. It is time that Kai knew that Princess Selene was alive, and ready to put Levana in her place once and for all.

Will Cinder assume the throne that was rightfully hers all along, or will Levana succeed in finishing what she started years ago when she first tried to kill her? I am excited to find out in the conclusion, Winter, that will undoubtedly be just as breathtaking and action-packed as the rest of the series.

Click on the links below to get your copy of this book and the others in its series:

  

  

Scarlet

Title: Scarlet
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles, book 2/6
Genre: Dystopian, Fairytale, Romance, Sci-Fi, YA 
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Release Date: February 5th, 2013

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Note: This post reviews the second book of The Lunar Chronicles. You may like to read the first book in the series, Cinder, before reading this review. 

Adding to the story of our heroine from the first book, Scarlet is thrown into a mystery after her grandmother unexpectedly disappears. Scarlet knows her grandmother was kidnapped, even though the case has been dismissed as a runaway, or even a suicide. Determined to find her grandmother and find out what is going on, Scarlet warily sets off with Wolf, a rough street fighter who is the only one who knows anything about her grandmother – and the people who kidnapped her. Thus, we have our next fairytale retelling in this series: Little Red Riding Hood.

Scarlet and Wolf have an undeniable connection from their first meeting, even though Scarlet has reason to distrust him. As their relationship progresses, she learns that Wolf is not who he says he is, and not what he seems. Even so, Scarlet is more and more drawn to him, dark side and all.

The other portion of the book follows up with Cinder, the cyborg Cinderella who was revealed in book one to be none other than the missing lunar princess. On the run from evil Queen Levana, her aunt who wants her dead, Cinder roams the galaxy as she pieces together the truth about her past. Having only just learned that she is Princess Selene, she has no idea what to do from here. She wants to help Kai, who does not know who she really is, but she does not have the confidence to stand up to Levana – yet.

Will Scarlet find her grandmother and learn why she was kidnapped in the first place? Will Wolf prove his loyalty to Scarlet, or will his past continue to haunt him? Will Cinder embrace her destiny and face her enemies, or will she continue to stay in hiding? These unknowns kept me engaged in the story from start to finish, and had me turning page after page to see what happens to these characters we have already come to love. Some of our questions are answered in this book, and others in the next book, Cress.

Click on the links below to get your copy of this book and the others in its series:

  

  

Cinder

 
Title: Cinder
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: The Lunar Chronicles, book 1/6
Genre: Dystopian, Fairytale, Romance, Sci-Fi, YA
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Release Date: January 3rd, 2012 

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This is not a retelling of Cinderella that I was expecting. Because I love fairy tale retellings as much as the next person (probably more), I was drawn into this futuristic dystopian version just as much as any other version set in a distant past. Set in New Beijing, over a hundred years after World War IV, this story has all the elements of any other Cinderella retelling, complete with wicked stepmother and stepsister (only one of the two sisters is nasty), pumpkin carriage (which is a broken-down car brought back to life), and a handsome prince.

The biggest difference? Our heroine is a cyborg this time around.

Cinder is the best mechanic in New Beijing – which is why Prince Kai seeks her out to fix his busted android, jokingly saying it was a “matter of national security.” As she works on the android more and more, she realizes that it was not far from the truth. He needs her help to uncover a mystery that has been covered up for many years. Kai and Cinder instantly hit it off, beginning a friendship that leads to a romance.

That’s not all Cinder has on her mind. The plague, letumosis, has been spreading on earth for the past decade, claiming the lives of millions. When it affects Cinder’s family, her stepmother volunteers her to be used for research to find a cure. The scientists who begin working on Cinder learn things about her that nobody else knows – including herself.

As Cinder struggles with the new knowledge of who and what she is, Kai has struggles of his own. Levana, the usurper queen of the lunars, has been waiting to wage her war on earth for many years. Only a marriage alliance with Prince Kai will secure a peace treaty with the lunars, the people who dwell on the moon, and the earthens. But everyone knows Levana is not trustworthy, and only wants power on earth. Kai is desperate to find a way of protecting his people, without having to marry a monster.

I enjoyed this high-tech retelling of Cinderella, and I am excited to read Scarlet, the next book in The Lunar Chronicles, where we will see what becomes of our cyborg Cinderella.

Click on the links below to get your copy of this book and the others in its series:

  

  

Cruel Crown

Title: Cruel Crown
Author: Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen, a companion
Genre: Dystopian, Fantasy, Romance, YA 
Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: January 5th, 2016 

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Note: This post reviews a companion book in the Red Queen series. You may like to read at least the first book in the series, Red Queen, before reading this review so that you have a good understanding of the world Aveyard has created and the characters in it. 
 

Queen Song tells the story of the Singer Queen, Coriane, the queen who came before Elara. She was introduced in Red Queen only through memories of some who knew her, one of those being her son, Cal. She died when Cal was a young boy, and Elara became queen after her. Now, we get to go back and see her sad story for ourselves. It is the story of a young, Silver girl, noble but poor, who meets Prince Tiberias and develops a friendship and eventually a romance with him. Coriane does not consider herself wise or powerful or beautiful, but Tiberias sees something in her that he loves and needs. When he chooses her as his bride, the people believe that she must have “sung” to him, using her persuasive powers to manipulate the Prince into loving her. But Coriane is not the manipulative kind, and rarely uses her powers on anyone, let alone the Prince. After they are married and expecting a baby, the King passes away, making Tiberias the new king, and Coriane his queen. Elara, who is at court, uses her own mind powers to get into Coriane’s head, driving her mad. We watch the deterioration happen in her mind as Elara controls her to the point of death. This short story is such a tragedy, but it gives us insight into the King’s heart, and even more compassion for Cal (as if we needed more reason to love him.)

Steel Scars is parallel to the time frame of Red Queen, but instead of following Mare’s story, we follow Farley’s. We already know Farley as the young captain of the Scarlet Guard, the group of Reds that resists the tyranny of the Silvers. What we don’t know is her back story, or at least very much of it. This short story shows Farley as she tries to be a strong leader and prove herself to the Scarlet Guard. While she displays confidence and leadership throughout this series, we now see a more vulnerable side to her. Everything is seen through her eyes, and told from her perspective. It made me like her character in a deeper way. Another thing I really enjoyed was her relationship with Shade, Mare’s brother. Even though we knew that they were a couple, we only get a glimpse of their relationship in the Red Queen series, since it is really about Mare. In Steel Scars, Farley and Shade meet, become friends, and fall in love. Aveyard don’t give us a ton, but it’s a little more than we get from the other books.

I have been a fan of the Red Queen series from the start, and I’m happy that Aveyard expanded on this world a bit more by giving us these two short stories. I hope that she continues to satisfy her readers with her lovable characters and their exciting trajectories.

Click on the links below to get your copy of this book and the others in its series: